Thursday, July 26, 2012

Corn on the Cob (microwaved! GASP)


Connor thought it was ridiculous how I do corn.  He thinks some things I do are strange and now we film them and throw them up on YouTube, sort of like the how to hull a strawberry with a straw.  Ok, here we go.

So, you take your cob of corn (with husk and silk!) and throw it in the microwave (with a turntable) for 4 minutes.  IF you have more than one cob, add 2 minutes per cob.

Let them rest for a moment.  Cut the STALK end off about an inch up from where the corn starts.  Grab the silk end (with a towel) and twist and pull.

Here is the video:

VOILA! perfect tasting, perfect looking, perfect silk free corn.  Butter obnoxiously.  Eat.


Croissant (as authentic as I can without going to culinary school)

I decided to make up yet another a recipe.  I knew it would take all day so I wrote and took pictures while I did it.  It didn't turn out nearly as I had wanted BUT I've left it here anyway.  So, for those who have time to kill and wondered how often I blow it, (often!) Here is my ode on how not to make croissants. 

ADDENDUM (AGAIN!)  I let the dough rest overnight and cooked the second half.  SUCCESS!  I'm thinking this is going to be a keeper.  I'll try to repeat it in the week and if it works the second time, I'll do a recipe. 

I'm all about old fashioned, high maintenance, food.  I try to alter the recipes a little bit to fit into my current lifestyle and on the whole have been relatively successful.  I'll be honest, I have very few failures.  However, there are a few things that vex me.  I have two main nemesis'.  Pastry is one, I'm truly inconsistent and frequently frustrated with pastry.  There other is croissants... I've tried about a million (that is not an exaggeration) croissant recipes.  I haven't been delighted with any of their outcomes.

I can whip up loaves of bread with the best of them, I know how it's supposed to look, to feel, to taste.  I know how it's supposed to move in my hands and on the board.  Breads love me.  Croissants, not so much. 

I have been researching and reading copious numbers of cookbooks and websites for a good, (easy hahaha) croissant recipe that doesn't require me thinking about it days ahead of time. 

I'm home today, writing, if there's any day that seems the best for working through a recipe then dough that needs more attention than a newborn, today is the day. 

There is yeast doing yeasty things in my Ninja, fitted with the "dough" blade.  I'm going to blog this in real time.  You might need to go get a glass of wine, this may be a long one. I will add the photographs in sections throughout my day.

Oh and yes, I'm making it up as I go along.  I will have a final recipe at the end of this post.


Into the mixer, I threw some milk, a spoonful of sugar and a half spoonful of yeast. (I can't find my measuring spoons *so sad* so am using a regular tablespoon "soup spoon" to measure.  I have mixed it and am letting it sit for 10 minutes.

I added some all purpose flour, salt, a little more sugar and some butter, a little blob of it.  

Mix to a soft dough.  Knead for a moment (the machine, afterall is on kneading duty) so you feel truly involved, coat the smooth, soft, dough ball with a little knob of butter, put it in a clean bowl and cover tightly with cling wrap.  Put in the oven with the light on and set the timer for 1 hour, we'll check it later.  The dough is a little knobbly coming out of the mixer but a quick knead for a moment brought it together and smoothed it out beautifully.

On a piece of parchment paper, dust some flour and put a stick of butter on it.  Flatten the butter with your fingers to a 6x4 rectangle.  Add flour so it doesn't stick.  Flip it over a few times to get it smooth and be sure you're not sticking to it!  Wrap it loosely in the parchment and pop it in the fridge to cool. 

See how we're doing double rising/cooling duty.  We have an hour to ourselves, off you go and do something fun.  I'm going to go write about food for a bit.
sprinkle parchment with flour, coat lightly and flatten the butter, wrap and toss it in the fridge



Ok, it's about an hour later, let's see what we have...ok, that looks doubled.

On a lightly floured surface, press it out and roll it into a rectangle.  It's lovely to work with and doesn't stick at all.
when it's flat and about 3 times the size of the very solid piece of butter, place the butter on the bottom third and fold over like a letter

fold the butter inside the dough, turn like a book and roll it out again, fold in thirds again, square it all up, wrap it in plastic and shove it back in the fridge to get firm and cold.
it's already starting to warm up and loosen...I was trying to be fast.  I have a feeling this isn't going to work, I think I broke the butter but I am forging bravely ahead, this is an experiment afterall.
 A quick repeat of the roll out and fold then quickly into the plastic wrap and into the fridge.  You can see how it's starting to soften! EEEK
Ah, folded, wrapped and back into the fridge.

We'll revisit in a couple of hours, I have shopping to do, we'll regroup in 2.


Okie dokie, it looks well rested and its definitely cold.  Still pliable but definitely well chilled
Again, I rolled it into a rectangle, folded it in thirds, turned it like a book and repeated.  BACK into the fridge for another hour.

3 PM (ish)

I've removed the dough, cut it in half, rolled it out into a really bad circle and cut it into 6 triangles.  I rolled them (again, badly) and put them on a sheetpan, covered.  Time to let them rise, we'll peek in about an hour and see how they're doing.  They are funny looking because I made them straight and as I was taking their picture, it occurred to me I should do them crescent shaped, for effect, so I tried to reshape them with one hand so I wouldn't gum up my camera.  See, all in the name of science.  We'll see how they are in a hour, or so.  I need a drink anyway

4:30 ish
Ok, this is exhausting.  After an hour to rise, they really didn't rise much.  I egg washed them and threw them into a 375 oven. 

Well well well.  I don't think I'd call this a rousing success but also it's not a complete and epic fail.  They are miles too small. The flavor is fabulous, absolutely fabulous.  The texture is a little too bready but it's tender and there are about a zillion layers in there.  The crust is pretty nice but could be much flakier.  You bet I'm making these again, I am already making alchemy notes.  I'll nail it.  I'll let you know when I do.

In the meantime, go buy some croissants and we'll meet back another day.


I rolled out the second half of the dough, cut it into 4, rolled them, put them on a pan, sprayed them with a little water, covered them loosely and left them for 2 hours.  *I went to the store and sort of forgot about them to be honest*

I sprayed them again with water and threw them into a 350 degree oven for 12 minutes.  Spun them and cooked them for another 3.

Oh, look at them!  I just might be delighted:

After a 90 minute rise, much puffier than yesterdays version!  Oh yes, these are working nicely!


I squealed with delight...  I'm working the recipe details and if I can recreate this, I'll post it! YAY!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Whole Wheat Boule

I'm back into playing Kitchen Alchemist again.  I love playing.  I love throwing ingredients in a bowl and seeing what happens.  I played around with a boule, like the no knead bread that's so famously floating around the internet.  I don't know how close mine is to the sort anyone else makes; but I took the theory of dough in a container and the idea of roasting bread in a closed container and this is what came out. 

There are two steps so on the easy scale it's a solid 10.  You have to think about this 24 hours in advance which is perpetually difficult for me so I'd rate the planning at a 5.  If you're a great planner, this is a piece of cake!  Or rather, a ridiculously delicious slice of bread! 

Tracy's Breakfast Whole Wheat Boule (my version) 

In a large plastic container with a lid combine: 

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp yeast
1 3/4 cups warm water 
1 Tablespoon honey (dissolved in the water)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Mix it with a big wooden spoon until it's just mixed.  Put lid on container.  Leave on counter for 24 hours. 

Next morning, Preheat oven to 500 degrees and put a cast iron roasting pan, with a lid (I used my Ikea cast iron/enamel oval) in the oven to preheat for at least 30 minutes. 

Pour/coax the dough from the container onto a lightly floured board.  With a very light touch, flip it and tuck in the sides, quickly and lightly, so it looks like a round.  I sprinkled a little oatmeal mixed with a little whole wheat flour on top for effect.

QUICKLY transfer the ball of dough into the SCREAMING hot pan.  Put the lid on and get it back into the 500 degree oven. 

Bake for 33 minutes. Remove promptly.  Wait a little bit for it to settle and relax, it's a very spongy texture inside and a crisp, slightly chewy crust.  It's dense and flavorful, considering it's virtually the same proportions as another bread I make, just a different system, the flavor and texture and taste are worlds apart from the other loaves.  I ABSOLUTELY love this bread.  

I cut it thickly and slather with butter and homemade strawberry jam.  It's crisp and chewy and crunchy and soft and spongy and buttery and sweet and wheaty, truly, it's a keeper and one of my better plans. 


Here's the play by play and beauty shots: 

My fabulous cast iron/enamel Ikea pan.  At the 24 hour mark, the dough had risen to 2 QT, not bad for a little blob of dough on my counter
The dough is bubbly and stretchy and smells beautifully of yeast.
Turned out onto a lightly floured board,  quick flip and a sprinkle of oats is all it needs.  I slashed it a couple of times to be chef-y and artsy fartsy and literally tossed it into the screaming hot pan.
Ok, the big reveal!  after 33 minutes in the oven... TADA!
Oh, my word.  Yes.
We left it to cool/settle for about 30 minutes. Connor was going quite mad waiting!
The bottom isn't pretty but it's good and crisp and makes a lovely hollow sound.
Slathered with butter and strawberry jam.
This loaf is most certainly on my short list and will be repeated...frequently and I don't actually think I'll change anything!  

Really, go now and make some dough, you'll thank me tomorrow ;)